The Philippine Revolution

by Apolinario Mabini


Copyright 1969
By Leon Ma.Guerrero


Permission to post this text on the Austrian-Philippine Website is provisionally granted by the estate of Leon Ma. Guerrero. It is intended for academic use. Commercial exploitation of this is explicitly prohibited. Copyright Estate of Leon Ma. Guerrero. All rights reserved.


Scanning and proofreeding of the text by Robert L. Yoder


Cause and Effect of the execution of Fathers Burgos, Gomez and Zamora

But such isolation was practicable only so long as the Europeans had to go by the Cape of Good Hope or the Straits of Magellan in order to reach the Far East, and before steam and electric, power had shortened distances. With the opening of the Suez Canal, the Philippines too was opened to the commerce of the civilized world. As a free and civilized nation, Spain was ashamed to imitate China by forbidding the islands to foreigners; besides, it did not have sufficient, strength to compel the great powers, if the need should arise, to abide by such a decision. Thanks to the increasing ease of communications events in Europe were already echoing in the ears of the Filipinos who, excited by these novelties, were beginning to think anew. Their awakening became even more thorough when the Filipino secular clergy, led by Father Burgos, appealed to the Spanish throne and Rome for the recovery of the parishes which the Spanish government had taken from them and given to the friars, confining the mselves to missionary work, should turn over all parishes to the Spanish and Filipino secular clergy in accordance with canon law. Since the friars were bound to lose the case because the petition was just and lawful, they put it about that the claimants were really agitators whose aim was to seize the parishes in order to organize an insurrection against the Spanish regime in the Philippines, The religious Orders claimed to be the sole support of Spanish rule and that, if they were removed from the parishes, the whole regime would come tumbling down, citing the precedent of the Mexican revolution which had been started by secular parish priests.

At this stage of the controversy, the garrison of the Cavite Arsenal mutinied. The ringleaders of the clerical dispute, offended because their claims had not been fairly met, were beyond any doubt, said their enemies, also the ringleaders of the insurrection and, as such, they. were condemned to death. The trial was held amid great mystery and secrecy; the sentence was hastily carried out; afterward it was forbidden to speak of the affair; and for these reasons no Filipino believed, or now believes, in the guilt of the executed priests.

Although Burgos and his companions, Gomez and Zamora, had worked for the rights, of a particular class and not of: the people as a whole, yet had they asked for justice, and died for having asked. True, already on the scaffold, Burgos still. could not understand why he should die, being innocent; which proves that he had not before then thought it possible that he should have to sacrifice his life for the cause he defended. But these were Christian priests, and they died like Christ, slandered by the friar-scribes, because they had sought to take away from the friars the administration of the parishes, the seat of their, power and influence over :the masses and the principal source of their wealth. So it is that the Filipinos keep them in grateful and imperishable memory, and the people venerate them as martyrs to justice.

The Spanish Government did not know and did not want to know anything about the friars in the Philippines or about the Filipinos. They first, in possession of the parishes, were in continuous contact with the latter, and informed against their personal enemies as enemies of Spain, handing them over to the constabulary to be tortured, and to the authorities to be banished. Those in authority who refused to do what the friars wished lost their jobs, and the most liberal minister in Spain, when in powers did whatever the friars wanted. The friars wanted to make an example of Burgos and his companions so that the Filipinos should be afraid to go against them from then on. But that patent injustice, that official crime, aroused not fear but hatred of the friars and of the regime that supported them, and a profound sympathy and sorrow for the victims. This sorrow worked a miracle: it made the Filipinos realize their condition for the first time. Conscious of pain, and thus conscious of life, they asked themselves what kind of a life they lived. The awakening was painful, and working to stay alive more painful still, but one must live. How? They did not know, and the desire to know, the anxiety to learn, overwhelmed and took possession of the youth of the Philippines. The curtain of ignorance woven diligently for centuries was rent at last: fiat lux, let there be light, would not be long in coming, the dawn of a new day was nearing.

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created: September 8, 1998
updated: December 22, 1998
APSIS Editor Johann Stockinger